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Posted by: Warren Jeffs ( )
Date: July 26, 2019 06:13AM

Why has the Mormon church made the easiest number of converts among natives of New Zealand and Pacific islanders like Tongans and Samoan?

I have heard it said that many missionaries were sent to these places in earlier times and that is the reason.But missionaries were sent to other places like Sweden and Holland and never made many converts and do not do so even today.

What makes native people of the Pacific so predisposed and inclined to become a Mormon

Ican say southern European are predisposed to become Catholic and northern European more likely to be Lutheran or Free Reformed in Holland.

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Posted by: Brother Of Jerry ( )
Date: July 26, 2019 06:46AM

My opinion is that primarily the whole "Lamanite chosen people" schtick played well there, though that was not true with Native Americans. I think with Native Americans it was obvious that being a chosen people was no blessing. Samoans, Tongans, etc were not dispossessed and moved off their land, so were less cynical.

I also think the tight family structure helped. Initial success brought further success when extended family members joined.

An early temple in Hawaii made all Pacific Islander Mormons feel valued. There was also an active chapel and school building program. I have a friend who grew up mostly in Samoa and Hawaii because her dad was a paid construction manger for LDS Inc during the late 1940s into the early 1960s. I doubt other Christian churches invested as heavily in those nations.

For other Christians, Pacific Islanders were just another batch of natives to "save". For Mormons, their conversion was "proof" the BoM was true. The Mormons were genuinely thrilled to have them, and they sensed that.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/26/2019 06:49AM by Brother Of Jerry.

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Posted by: mikemitchell ( )
Date: July 26, 2019 06:47AM

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Posted by: CrispingPin ( )
Date: July 26, 2019 09:15AM

Speaking of the Lamanite nonsense: did “the one true church” ever come up with any kind of theory as to how these Lamanites were able to travel across the ocean from the Americas to the Pacific islands? Did they build Nephi style boats, or did they use wooden submarines? Did they have a brass ball of curious workmanship to guide them?

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: July 26, 2019 09:26AM

...Just brass balls...

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Posted by: Heartless ( )
Date: July 26, 2019 10:52PM

In the book of mormon there is one passage about a great boat builder who lead three expeditions to the ocean to lands he found there.

The native peoples of the many islands of the pacific are considered my LDS folks to be descendants of these expeditions.

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Posted by: Wally Prince ( )
Date: August 01, 2019 10:06PM

in the mythology that the LSD Church missionaries used to sell the "gospel" to the Polynesians.

The notion that the Polynesians are descendants of the group of Lamanites that mysteriously sailed off with Hagoth is taken as bedrock gospel fact by most of the TBM Polynesians I've known (especially among the older generations).

The success of the church in Polynesia coincides with the success of many other protestant missionary efforts in the islands in the 19th century. What the Mormons had going for them in some islands is that they got there early and had a story to tell that included the ancestors of the islanders, whereas the other protestant groups didn't have that extra twist to offer but were instead stuck with only a story about a guy who lived in the middle east in a culture and ethnic group that had zero connection to the Polynesians.

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Posted by: Vortigern ( )
Date: July 27, 2019 03:14PM

Perhaps they did it in the same manner that early hominins did to get to the Philippines over 600,000 years ago... although we have no idea how!

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Posted by: Cheryl ( )
Date: July 26, 2019 09:00AM

Individuals can keep their religion of birth and add a new one to it.

My uncle went on an extended mission to Tonga. It began before WWII and lasted through the war and beyond. He was instrumental in establishing mormonism in that area. When he finally returned, he brought everyone gifts of shells, coconut boxes and beads from the region. I still have one or two gifts from him.

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Posted by: Anonforthis24 ( )
Date: July 26, 2019 10:47AM

Having grown up w/ many Polynesians (i.e. Samoan, Tongan, Hawaiian), I have asked myself this many times. I believe that they are drawn to Mormonism (and stay) because it affords them opp to become leaders over "polongee's" or "howee's" as they call the "white's." In my opinion, many, but not all, Polynesians are racist and feel superiority over white people in physical and spiritual strength. As a youth, I was intensely bullied by my counterpart Aaronic priesthood poly mates. In the paradigm of Mormonism, having worked extensively with them in Bishoprics and all other - I have heard them say it and have witnessed racism from them. For instance, my poly. bishop told me, "Brother Whitee, I am glad you are serving in this position, but to tell you the truth, I only like to put Poly's in these high leadership positions in the ward because I find they make better leaders over polongee's - Polys are more faithful, hard working, and will get the job done over the white leader. You are an exception Brother Whittee." Of course I was thrilled that he included me in his glorified image of the poly's over white's, but I thought, "man this dude is racist to the core and he doesn't even know it."

So, bottom line, in my opinion the Polynesians are particularly drawn to the Mormon church because they can be leaders over others (esp Whites), no matter of their position, career, and place in society.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: July 26, 2019 11:26AM

"Christianity in New Zealand dates to the arrival of missionaries in the early 19th century. It became New Zealand's largest religious group, but no one denomination dominated and there was no official state church. Today, slightly less than half the population identify as Christian. The largest denominations are Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian. Christian organisations are the leading non-government providers of social services in New Zealand."

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Posted by: Bamboozled ( )
Date: July 26, 2019 11:33AM

I experienced first hand a Polynesian ward in SoCal that would not send their YSA's to stake activities because they didn't want their children to mix seed with whites.

As a very naive YSA stake leader I even called their bishop to try and encourage their participation. He let me have it. I was really shocked by it.

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Posted by: warren jeffs ( )
Date: July 26, 2019 10:59AM

Maybe it is a patriachal culture that goes hand in hand with the church and Tongan culture.Others cultures like German or Russian are not so patriachal.

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Posted by: thedesertrat1 ( )
Date: July 26, 2019 01:45PM


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Posted by: sd ( )
Date: July 26, 2019 05:56PM

they were given a free ride off the island.

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Posted by: Somebodyelseforthis ( )
Date: July 27, 2019 12:19AM

I know a little bit about this topic, but don't want to say who I am because I am well known in the Polynesian culture. Over the years, I have been giving this topic a lot of thought.

There are a number of reasons why they are attracted and stay in the church. Many of those ideas have been mentioned here, but I will try to give some insider nuances on the subject.

First of all, they have a very strong patriarchal culture, just like the church. Men rule, and women and children follow unconditionally. If someone is perceived as the leader or has some standing (such as age; you only have to be one day older to rule over younger cultural members), then they are given all respect. Leaders in the church and leaders of the people are spoiled, and it's seen as a cultural positive to sacrifice for any leader, even giving up your own basics of survival to the leader or church. You can be berated, shunned, or assaulted for not showing proper deference. Women and children are not as important as men or boys, and there is a double-standard. Women and children can be abused, just like in the Mormon church. Although, I will admit Polynesian abuse is probably less sexual and more physical than for white members.

Their deference to authority can been seen in this clip about the Tongan legend of kava and what it represents. They have a strong sense of authoritarianism, believing in strong, punishing leaders and parents. Sound familiar? Careful, not the faint of heart:

They believe they are special, as another poster noted. Along with being a warrior culture, which they strongly admire, they believe they are god's chosen people. They see themselves as more righteous, saved-away from the rest of the world until now. Palangis had the gospel first, and as servants, or stewards of the gospel, brought it to the islands, where it rightfully belonged. Of course, the BOM and church leaders like SWK, DOM, and Groberg have been blowing that smoke up their collective asses for decades, which doesn't help with the self-delusion.

They believe they have a superior culture and race, that they are more virtuous, righteous, self-sacrificing, loyal, royal, physically strong and beautiful. White Mormons, intrigued with the exoticism of the culture, are all too willing to inflate their egos, just as Ploynesians inflate the egos of the white Mormons. Quid pro quo. Maybe it's because Native Americans were slow to accept the Lamanite label, while Polynesians embraced it. It reinforced the testimonies of white Mormons when some group was willing to accept Mormon pseudo-history. Actually, rather than Lamanites, many feel they are true Nephites (see the story of Hagoth in the BOM).

Along with white Mormons, there is a tendency to look down on other races, including whites. They are anti-miscegenation as many Mormon still are, but were particularly 20 or more years ago. Mormon doctrine gives an excuse for believing this way. I have witnessed Polynesians be particularly derogatory to blacks and Mexicans, even though they don't admit it. You have to be part of the culture to hear it.

They are strong believers in the supernatural (superstitious, if you want). They are strong believers that god is personally intervening in their lives. If you are ill or deformed, you have sinned. If you are rich, famous, or respected, you are a special child of god, and god spends his time clearing your way in life. Their stories of suffering and religious pilgrimage mirrors the stories of white pioneers, so there is a shared bond.

Finally, they are very communal just as Mormons are, and once were fanatical about. Everything is for the community. One gives and gives and gives. The sign of wealth is not how much you accumulate, but how much you give. Communal culture means that you think with one mind and believe with one heart, just like the Mormon ideal. Individualistic members are shunned. This creates an environment of suppressing individual thought and ambition. Since culture and church are wedded, it's nearly impossible to break away, which is why so many of them stay.

This post might sound somewhat derogatory, but I have every right to speak honestly since I am part of the culture. There are great things on the horizon for the Polynesian people. The culture won't stay Mormon forever. The Polynesian culture has many positive aspects about it, and this will be their way out. Polynesians tend to be early adapters, hardworking and education-seeking because they give deference to learning. They have been assimilating quickly into American culture, becoming more educated and prosperous than their first-generation parents. Education is important for leaving the fold because it breaks down communal culture, allowing for individuals to become independent. It creates natural associations and interactions with other cultures, allowing the benefits of a multi-cultural society to become obvious. It destroys superstition.

In a very short time, I have seen Polynesians leaving the church and becoming secular. They hate being lied to and having their culture hijacked by frauds. A good number have left, but once it hits critical mass, I predict they will leave in higher percentages than do other Mormons.

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Posted by: presleynfactsrock ( )
Date: July 27, 2019 05:46PM

I thank you tons for sharing. Your insights helped me to view these two cultures with more knowledge, instead of often relying on rumor and quick observations of my own.

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Posted by: anon2828 ( )
Date: July 28, 2019 12:12AM

Your response is extremely interesting and insightful. Thanks for sharing your insider knowledge with us.

Q1: Why is it common among Polynesians to be racist towards Blacks and Latinos? I know, they're special and doctrine, but this is only localized reality. The hypocrisy doesn't sit well with me (when does it ever?). It's especially troubling when one minority turns a blind eye to the struggles of other minority groups, instead of finding solidarity or at least offering acknowledgment. Mormonism may uplift Polynesian status, but not outside this circle. Outside the circle, racism doesn't always distinguish between heritage and color (not that it usually matters to racists).

Q2: Are communal and collectivist cultures the same? I know of some cultures that are collectivist, with each member interdependent to the group. The group always comes first before individual preferences, but that doesn't mean individual preferences aren't allowed or valued, as long as they don't stray severely. Maybe I answered my own question. That's the difference between collectivism and cults, where cultists are rigid and collectivists have a wider range, so long as it doesn't compromise the group.

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Posted by: Jordan ( )
Date: July 27, 2019 05:09AM

Wikipedia for once has some useful information. Māoris had their own prophets and this ties in with the LDS.

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Posted by: FelixNLI ( )
Date: July 27, 2019 04:54PM

Thanks for taking the time to share what you have observed somebodyelseforthis. Your insights are appreciated.

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Posted by: schrodingerscat ( )
Date: July 27, 2019 09:49PM

Having served a mission in Oz, with a bunch of Maoris and islanders, I'd say it had a lot to do with tradition. The Maoris were allowed to keep their traditions, and assimilate into western Culture through adopting Mormonism, which alligned with their strong family culture and worked for them, generally.

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Posted by: macaRomney ( )
Date: July 31, 2019 07:30AM

Thanks for the observations written, It's probably a combination of the patriarchy, a natural inclination to faith and belief in the supernatural as stated above.

I'm not very experienced in knowing the Islanders. But from the few that I have known they seem to be the sort that make decisions impulsively, They are very social and have symptoms of adult adhd. They hold few secrets and don't waste their time in sophisticated sabotage as whites maybe inclined.

They are just nice people, and their flaws are out in the open, unlike other people I know who hide things well.

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Posted by: Chicken N. Backpacks ( )
Date: August 01, 2019 03:54PM

"But missionaries were sent to other places like Sweden and Holland and never made many converts and do not do so even today."

I may be wrong, but I thought they were pretty damn successful in Northern Europe; many people think of the English and Welsh who wanted to get out of the rat hole slums they were living in the 19th Century on the promise of "America", but Sweden, despite its fame as a clean, cool, green paradise, had its share of rat holes. One reason there are so many blond, blue-eyed Mo's and Mo' royalty like Jensen, Christensen, Benson...

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Posted by: Hedning ( )
Date: August 01, 2019 05:12PM

The years mormon missionaries arrived in Norway, Sweden and Denmark were very fortunate for gathering large numbers of converts to emigrate to Utah. The industrial revolution was setting in and survival on rural farms and fishing in Norway was becoming very difficult. There were great famines in Europe ( especially Sweden during the next few decades. Wars with the Germans made lots of Danes decide to leave. Most rural areas of Utah and Idaho still bear a majority of the common names of these converters jensens, hansens, Larsons, Christiansen, Nielsen, and on and on and on. Norwegian, Swedish and Danish girls were prized converts who were swept up by the mormon leadership as plural wives. In my mission office there were some old documents and letters. One that used to be shown off to new administrative elders was a letter during the 1870s encouraging the missionaries to convert certain types of young women with suggestions towawrds hair color, eye color and body build.

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Posted by: David A ( )
Date: August 02, 2019 05:26PM

As a missionary in New Zealand many, many years ago, we were told the story of a wise old sage Maori leader that was asked by his people which church to join. As the story goes, he went off and prayed / meditated and returned with the following message: “When the truth arrives you will know it because they will travel in twos and when they pray they will pray with their arms to the square.”

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Posted by: David A ( )
Date: August 02, 2019 05:30PM

I think this is the prophet I was remembering.

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Posted by: Free Man ( )
Date: August 04, 2019 05:36PM

Let me share a little known fact. There is racism among all races, not just whites, as we are led to believe.

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Posted by: xxMo0 ( )
Date: August 05, 2019 02:33AM

In addition to the role allegedly played by these people in the BoM (mentioned elsewhere in this thread) I suspect it had something to do with the small size and isolated nature of these islands.

Not a lot of resources were available there (back in the late 19th/early 20th century) with which to refute LDS missionary teaching, and not much competition except from other Protestant sects which didn't offer the locals as much of a historical role as offered by the BoM myths.

Probably family influence was a big factor too. The islands' small populations and tightly knit clans meant that once a church got a foothold among a few key people, it was easy for the rest of the family to join in based on peer pressure.

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